Painting Tip: Dealing With Angled Walls and Sloped Ceilings

As a color consultant, one question I seem to get asked over and over is “should I paint this wall or ceiling color?” It seems like a lot of the homes I have been in recently have odd angles and sloped ceilings.  I am not talking about a slightly sloped ceiling like in this room below where it is still easy to identify wall from ceiling.

Brian Brady and Franco Biscardi

Hamptons Show House 2011 by Brian Brady and Franco Biscardi

I’m referring to a deep angled ceiling with multiple slanting walls like in this bedroom below. It can often be confusing to figure out if something should be painted wall or ceiling color.

bedroom angled walls

House Beautiful

Even among designers and painters there seems to a difference of opinion of how best to treat angled walls and sloped ceilings. To help you make a decision of how best to treat your angled and sloped walls I thought it would be helpful to show you four options: Three that work and one that doesn’t.

#1  The first way is to paint everything wall color except the flat (horizontal) ceiling like in this room below.

painted angled walls

Denise Wenacur Designs

This is a perfectly good option if you want to keep the ceiling light but prefer a richer color on the walls. Wrapping all the slopes and angles in the same color minimizes the choppy feeling of the room. This treatment works best if the flat part of your ceiling is fairly wide, otherwise it could end up looking like a white landing strip like in the photo below.

painting angled walls

Google Images

#2. paint the entire room the same color. Many designers like this option the best. As top Designer Jamie Drake says:

“If your space has odd angles dormers, or unsettling beams, wrap the entire room in color. Use the same paint or paper on every surface. It will make all the oddities disappear.”

Jamie Drake

Design by Jamie Drake

Painting the entire room; walls, slopes and ceiling the same color not only minimizes all the angles but creates a calmer feeling for the room. I would caution you against using too dark of a color because you don’t want to create a dark cave like room (unless that is the look you are going for). A light color is  expanding and usually you can use all the visual height you can get in these sloping and angled rooms.

white painted room

Look how restful the bedroom above looks even though visually there is a lot going on with that ceiling.

Wrapping the whole room in a soft neutral or white is also a great way to introduce pops of color in the furniture and accessories like in this family room below.

angled walls houzz

Houzz

#3. Embrace the angles and slopes and make it the focal point of the room. This is a good option, especially if you want to create a statement.

check out the 4 rooms below and see how the homeowner embraced their odd angles and made it the focal point of the room.

bead board bedroom houzz

Pinterest

Pinterest

Pinterest

and lastly, what NOT to do:

#4. Paint ceiling and angled walls white and walls a dark color. This is what I recommend NOT to do. The problem with this is that the more angles and sloped walls the room has, the more choppy the room feels. Since many of these types of angled rooms are bedrooms the choppiness does not make for a very restful space.

angled wall 10 attic-bedroom

Houzz

Another problem with Option #4 is that it can appear as if  the ceiling is coming down and taking a bite out of the room.

Google Images

Or that your room is wearing a big white hat like in this image below.

Houzz

As always, I would love to hear from you… What is your favorite way to treat angled walls and sloped ceilings?

 

If you would like help deciding the best way to paint your room or help choosing the perfect color give me a call.

 

 

48 Responses to Painting Tip: Dealing With Angled Walls and Sloped Ceilings
  1. Hannah Dee Reply

    I know this one is close to your heart! Well written.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thank you Hannah…you are so right as part of me wrote this so I would have it down pat!

  2. kristie@thedecorologist Reply

    BRAVO, Linda! This is a fabulous post and you give spot-on advice on this tricky subject. I prefer to wrap most ceilings with the wall color if there is no crown moulding, but it depends on the specifics of the room – every situation is different, but it’s so important to have sensible guidelines to follow when making those decisions!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Kristie..always new challenges with every odd shaped room for sure.

  3. Lisa Kawski Reply

    perfect blog posting. So helpful with the narration as well as the images to support the ones that work as well as the ones that do not!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Lisa. Isn’t it funny that you were talking about this yesterday… We certainly are in sync with one another aren’t we?

  4. Jennifer Reply

    Fantastic post Linda….you have done it again!!! I love all of your examples and photos!! I am one of the many designers that usually likes to envelop the entire room in one color but it just all depends on the space and what you’re trying to accomplish.
    Great job!!
    Jennifer

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Jenn. After my last few crazy rooms I am now a convert to painting everything out. Thanks so much for the comment.

  5. Lisa Mende Design Reply

    So happy to find you on my friend Jennifer Reynolds’ recommendation! Great post! I am your newest follower and invite you to follow me back!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks so much Lisa!! So happy you found me as well and yes I would love to follow you as well.

  6. Barbara @DIY Home Staging Tips Reply

    All this is helpful, well-written and concise advice, Linda. You’re addressing a common dilemma.

    I painted homes for 20 years, and many homeowners want what they want, despite a painter’s advice. I can tell you that of the rooms with angled wall that I painted, the ones that didn’t go all one color where the rooms that just didn’t look that great.

    People think changing colors from slanted wall to ceiling will give personality, but what they ignore is that the way light strikes those different surfaces, each wall is going to look slightly different, and interesting enough.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      you are so right Barbara, I think some homeowners don’t realize how unsettling and choppy all those angles become with different colors.

      • alan nunnery Reply

        Hey…ive been trying to paint a bedroom upstairs that has odd angels and i just painted the room a soft tan color and was trying to figure out what color should i paint the celing…thought about a soft light blue but would tan be better?

        • Linda Holt Reply

          Alan, If the ceiling is a large expanse I think a soft blue will look great. If there isn’t a lot of flat ceiling though I would carry the tan all the way up. Hope that helps!

    • Lisa M Reply

      Thank you so much for this post. I have been agonizing over my upstairs for a long time. I have a stairway that goes down to the living room so am not sure how to carry the color through to the main part of the house. This is a great article. Really good comment about how lighting affects the paint color…

      • Linda Holt Reply

        Thanks so much for commenting Lisa..glad I was able to help!

  7. Sheila Zeller Reply

    Linda, this is an awesome post! Wow, some of those angles would terrify me to deal with!!! Thank you so much for putting this post together… I have pinned it so I don’t lose it :-)

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Sheila..I need to figure out how to pin blogs…it’s been on my “to do” list.

  8. Kelly @ JAX does design Reply

    We have a vaulted ceiling in our loft and in our entry. The walls & ceiling in both spaces are painted the same colour, and it really makes each space seem bigger/taller because there’s no line to break your sight line between the wall & ceiling. The painter who painted our loft was going to paint the ceiling white, and was skeptical when I said no, paint it the same colour as the walls. After he was done, he was surprised by how much bigger the room felt. I think I may have converted him :-)

    • Linda Holt Reply

      That’s great to hear Kelly. Most of the “badly” painted angled rooms I see the home owner tells me it was painted that way because their previous painter told them that was “how it is done”. Of course their previous painter was probably their cousin looking to make a few bucks or their college kid and a few of his buddies. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  9. Kelly Reply

    This really was a fantastic post Linda! I know you have been dealing with odd ceilings lately so this was great for the rest of us to learn. Nice the way you included what works and what does not. I love, love Jamie Drake! Look how he put everything in the room together. Genius!

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks Kelly
      After getting a little help from my TCE friends I decided to put it all in a post.

  10. Shelley Reply

    Spot on post Linda!!! We have a sitting room exactly like the photo below option 3 which we opted to wrap in the same colour. Since it is long and narrow we didn’t want the landing strip effect. The result is a room we love, angles and all.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to comment Shelley. Our master bedroom is under the eves as well and we also wrapped the whole room in a light neutral and it feels so calm. The previous owners had painted it like option 4. …white ceiling and angles with dark blue walls. I hated it and it was the first room we painted when we moved in.

  11. Kristy Swain Reply

    Great advice! I agree with it all – my personal preference is all one color; one light color.

  12. Debbie Perkins Reply

    I am so glad that I found your site. We are in the process of finishing out a room over my two car garage for me a sewing room. (I have been banned from the living room…) Ha! I win! Anyway, it has a sloped ceiling. 18×20 but losing room due to the sloping. I had thought about painting the little strip at the top white where the lights are. Landing strip, huh? Yep, that is what mine would look like. Ok, now, I plan on painting it all the same color. I think that maybe a soft beige or tan will be fine. I only have a 3×4′ window facing south. If you have any suggestions about the color, quick, we are still hanging insulations. Correction, I am hanging it. Old, and cheap labor. Thanks.

    • Elizabeth Jones Reply

      Debbie, did you get the sewing room painted? Mine, like yours, has a south facing window with knee walls on either side. I am jazzed about painting it all a light neutral color but resist beige. What whites look good in bright light and with the artwork displayed? A sewing room is one in which colored fabric is chosen to compliment and contrast in sewing projects like quilting, etc…

      • Debbie Perkins Reply

        Hi Elizabeth. I used a paint from Andrews True Value Hardware called Sonora. It is a beige-y khaki. ALL ONE COLOR, walls and ceilings. I trimmed everything out in white. It looks good with the morning light and the three fluoresant lights down the strip at the top. Each has 3 lights, so it is BRIGHT! I used an light oak laminate. Black and dark maple furniture. Black and white roman shades, valance, and covered chairs (not done yet). Black small bookcases from Walmart, due to the sloping ceilings, with lots of plastic boxes. Mixed colors right now, kinda had to stop buying. :) Pops of lime, turquoise, and hot pink. Wild.

        • Linda Holt Reply

          Sounds great Debbie! Would love to see a photo.

          • Debbie Perkins

            Hi, Linda. Just as soon as I have it finished, I will send a picture. If I hadn’t found your site, I would have painted that strip white, and hated it. Thanks. I have to paint the doors and another coat of paint on the trim. I love it!

          • Linda Holt

            Great! Looking forward to seeing it!

  13. Karen Lyons Reply

    Hi Linda,
    What great tips! I am presently working on a bedroom that has 2 small walls that pitch to a slope. In the center is an alcove with a window which I will build either a desk or bench into. The angle on the 2 walls start at 52″ H. The walls have attic space behind them and I would like to have book shelves built into them. The slope would start above the bookshelves. I don’t want to create a break in the wall at that point. Any suggestions on how to use color on these walls, bookshelves and window seat or desk?

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Hi Karen, without seeing the room it sounds like a LOT is going on angle wise. I would suggest painting the whole space out the exact same color.

  14. [...] this with slanted ceilings and angled walls there are several ways to paint it as I wrote about HERE.  ... lindaholtinteriors.com/2013/04/a-most-dramatic-before-and-after-family-room-make-over
  15. Sonja Reply

    Thank you so much! My husband and I just realized that had major painting decisions regarding our angled ceilings with the painters on the way and this article made our decisions so much easier! The pictures made it so much easier to envision. Looking you up on Instagram now and look forward to more great inspiration and tips as we finish our third floor.

  16. Tracy Reply

    This is the best article pertaining to this issue! Love it! I am painting my office navy blue and I have a white leather futon and hot pink accents and lamps. I was originally going to not paint the entire wall and it would be choppy like above so thanks for this!

  17. Megan Reply

    Hello! I am looking to redo our bedroom and I haven’t a clue how to paint it! We have out bedroom in the top part of our cape cod home! The angle walls are thruout the entire upstairs and I’m not sure to paint those or not! I’m looking to do a brown color! Please help!
    Thank you so much!
    Megan Blake

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Hi Megan, without seeing your space it’s a little hard to say but I would caution you against going too dark with brown. You don’t want the bedroom to look like a cave. Instead, think about a soft, light neutral that you can wrap around the whole room including the angled ceiling.

  18. Julie Criser Reply

    I’m so glad I found this site. We are in a renovation process and one of the beds rooms is gaining extra space due to the roofline changing. Hard to explain. It is presently a deep blue. We’ve decided to repaint a lighter color. Was toying with idea of brighter blue on horizontal walls, lighter shade on angled walls, and lightest shade on ceiling. I have sample paints to paint on poster board to help with visualization. If I’m not totally convinced, I’ll go with all one color.

  19. Anna Reply

    Thank you for this site! I am trying to figure out what to do with an angled wall with crwon moulding. The installers could not install on the angled wall (dormer) so the crown moulding just stopped. How can I deal with this with paint? The ceiling is white where the angle starts.

    Thank you

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Honestly? I would remove the molding. There is no way to make it look right on an angle wall and having it just randomly end will not look great either. If it can’t be removed then I would paint it all out the same color as the wall and make it as invisible as possible.

  20. Annemarie245 Reply

    What would you recommend to do if: when the slanted part meets the ceiling and its rounded, not a sharp line. The ceiling is fairly low as it’s an attic bedroom.

    • Linda Holt Reply

      In this case you really need to use one color only and wrap it around both wall and ceiling.

  21. Lisa McGrann Reply

    Large vaulted ceiling bedroom – faces south – we have
    6 x 10′ bay windows. Attached bathroom – also vaulted. I want a cozy look – lamps are all glass with brown shades. Windows are all wood frames. Should I go light or a bit dark? Thought of olive green but it may look too dark. Love white bedding, great art and color splashed with pillows. Any color suggestions? Thanks. Lisa

  22. Lisa McGrann Reply

    large vaulted bedroom with southern sun exposure. Bay windows (6 x 10′), Our windows are all wood. I have just put in honeycomb shades – cream with fleck of tan. Room needs some color but do I go light or a little darker – like an olive green. I want a very candle light look by night and maybe a beautiful sheer by day. Lights: large glass lamps with beautiful brown shades. Help. Thanks. Lisa

    • Linda Holt Reply

      Lisa, without seeing room I really can’t make a color recommendation. I would suggest you paint up a few large sample boards of the colors you are considering and then place them around the room. See how they look to you in the Sunny part of the day and also in the evening. Google luck!

  23. Ciaran Reply

    I’m currently living in an apartment with a sloped ceiling (I guess it looks something like the “landing strip” photo above, but narrower). I hit my head off the sloped part about once every week or two. Usually after bending over, or if I’m standing in the wrong place and decide to turn around. Very annoying. I wonder if you would have any tips for painting the sloping part to draw attention to it & reduce my future risk of brain damage?

    • Linda Holt Reply

      In that case Ciara, how about painting the sloped part of the walls and the “landing stripe” a brighter color and the flat walls a neutral. That way the part you keep hitting your head on will stand out as an accent wall and hopefully you will be able to stop hitting your head!

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